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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is urging all women to ‘be breast aware’ and to think about attending for screening when invited.

Take up the offer of screening during Breast Cancer Awareness month 2016

In 2014/15 a total of 76,661 women aged 50–70 were invited for screening, with 57,758 attending. This means that over three quarters of the women who were invited took up the offer of screening mammography.

“Prevention and early detection are key to saving lives from breast cancer,” said Dr Sinéad McGuinness, Specialty Registrar in Public Health Medicine at the PHA.

Most women who attend for breast screening mammography will have normal mammograms. Out of every 100 women who attend for screening, about four are asked to come back for further tests. Most of them will have a normal result. However, in 2014/15, a total of 400 breast cancers were detected by screening – that equates to more than one woman per day who previously did not know they had cancer, but who are now getting treatment.

Dr McGuinness continued: “I urge all women who are invited for breast screening to consider attending. Routine screening stops when women turn 70, but those over 70 who wish to have further breast screening  can contact their local breast screening unit, where staff will arrange a further appointment. Many women don’t realise that the risk of breast cancer continues to increase with age. Breast screening remains the best way we have of detecting breast cancer at an early stage when treatment can be more effective.

“It is also important for women to look out for changes in the appearance of their breasts such as a change in size or outline of either breast, especially those caused by arm movement; any puckering, dimpling or redness of the skin; or veins that stand out more than usual.

“Women should be aware of any feelings of pain or discomfort in one part of either the breast or armpit, particularly if it is new and persistent. Women should also look and feel for any lumps or thickening in either breast that feels different from the other breast, as well as any swelling or lumps under the armpit or around the collarbone. Also look out for any changes to the nipple such as a nipple that has become pulled in, changed shape, has a discharge, bleeds, has a rash or has crusted, flaky skin.

“Many changes are harmless but all should be checked by a GP. If the change is due to cancer, earlier detection may mean simpler and more successful treatment.

“Regular breast screening reduces the risk of death from breast cancer. On average one life will be saved from breast cancer for every 200 women screened.

For further information on the screening service see www.pha.site/breastscreeningquestions

The breast screening video can be viewed at: www.pha.site/breastscreeningfilm